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How to Evict a Tenant: Northern Territory (NT)

Home owner handing over the keys

Onboarding new tenants is rewarding and exciting – no vacant properties, and there’s the prospect of a steady income for the duration of the lease. Well, that’s the perfect scenario. The reality can be different, especially if you don’t take the time to vet the tenants thoroughly.

Bad tenants spell a disaster to your income, property, neighbourhood, and can even degrade the value of your property. Refining your tenant screening process keeps the terrible clients from getting in. That means you don’t get to spend most of your time chasing after payment or attending eviction hearings.

With the median weekly rent in the Northern Territory ranging from $300 to $500, you stand a chance of reaping handsome returns from your rental property. To reap all these benefits, you must be ready and willing to evict any bad tenants and replace them with great renters. Here’s a detailed guide to help you be rid of troublesome tenants without incurring legal trouble.

How to Evict a Tenant in the Northern Territory

Terminating a lease agreement in the Northern Territory is a delicate, highly regulated process. It’s important that you know how to evict a tenant using these guidelines if you want them gone quickly. Otherwise, you might end up muddling the entire process or getting on the wrong side of the law.

You have two options when evicting a tenant – issue a termination notice or apply for a termination order from the Northern Territory Civil and Administrative Tribunal (NTCAT) in the case of a serious problem.

Terminating a Tenancy Agreement Through a Notice

This entails issuing the tenant with a notice to terminate a tenancy agreement. The notice should give the tenant at least a 14-day notice to move out. Ideally, the tenant should abide by the notice and vacate the premises within the deadline. Some tenants, however, choose to fight the notice. If that happens, the NTCAT gets to arbitrate the dispute.

Terminating Tenancy with No Specific Grounds

As long as you keep the termination process above board, you don’t need to declare the reasons behind terminating a lease agreement. That applies to tenants on fixed and periodic lease agreements. To end a fixed-term tenancy you must issue the tenant with 14 days’ notice.

The last date of the notice must be the last day of their tenure, if not later. For tenants on a periodic agreement, the notice period extends to 42 days, but only if there are no specific grounds for termination.

Evictions Involving Breached Tenancy Agreements

Sometimes a tenant might violate the terms of the lease agreement that warrants the termination of their lease. The nature and severity of the breach dictate the course of action you will take.

If the breach is minor and can be remedied, you must bring it to the tenant’s attention and ask them to fix the violation. If they fail to rectify the breach within the allotted timeline, you can go ahead and issue a termination notice. If the tenant doesn’t obey the notice to vacate, seek a termination order from the tribunal.

For major tenancy breaches, you can skip the notices and apply for a termination order from the tribunal.

Issuing a Notice to Remedy the Breach

For minor lease violation, it’s a good practice to issue a tenant with a Notice to Remedy the Breach. The notice is a legal document that affords them a chance to fix the violations. It also saves you the hassle of running after them to remedy the breach while setting the stage for the issuance of a termination notice.

A misstep during the eviction process can cost you precious time while allowing a problem tenant to remain on the premises.  

The remedy notice should give the tenant at least 7 days to fix the breach or at least take adequate steps to correct the violation. If the tenant complies with the notice and amends the violation, the tenancy carries on to the end.  

If the tenant ignores the notice or doesn’t make a satisfactory effort to remedy the problem, apply for a termination or possession order from the Tribunal. However, you must make the application within 14 days after the remedy period detailed in the first notice. Muddling the timelines can invalidate your claim, costing you precious time as you must restart the process afresh. The tribunal can’t issue a termination order if you don’t tick all the boxes when issuing the notices.

Issuing a Notice to Remedy Unpaid Rent

If a tenant is late with the rent for at least 14 days, issue them with a Notice to Remedy Unpaid Rent. The notice should give the tenant at least 7 days to clear the rent arrears. If the rent remains unpaid at the end of the expiry period, apply for a termination order from NTCAT. You must make the application within 14 days of the last date on the overdue rent notice. The tribunal will only act if the rent remains outstanding and the notices adhered to the correct timelines.  

Termination Due to Unsafe Premises

You can terminate a tenancy if a property is deemed unsafe or is likely to endanger the tenant’s wellbeing. You must issue a 2-day notice if the premises check any of the following boxes:

  • If the premises are inaccessible for more than 3 days following a flood.
  • If the continued occupation of the premises would pose a health and safety threat to the tenant.
  • If the property is deemed uninhabitable. The property may have suffered extensive damage or is in a deplorable condition.

Termination Due to Court Declared Drug Premises  

If a tenant is involved in a legal case that leads the judge to declare the property to be drug premises, you can evict that tenant. However, you must issue them a 14-day termination notice.

Terminating an Employment-Related Lease Agreement

If you have a tenancy agreement with an employee, you can evict them after terminating their employment and notifying the tenant that they are no longer in your payroll. If the tenant is fired for a breach of contract, a 2-day termination notice is in order. If the employment is terminated for any other reasons, issue a 14-day termination notice.

Termination Due to Hardship to the Landlord

You can terminate a lease if keeping the tenancy will result in undue hardship on your part. The difficulty must not have existed before the tenancy agreement. It’s challenging to get a termination order on this ground unless it involves a dire situation such as bankruptcy or homelessness.

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Applying directly to NTCAT for a Termination Order

In some instances, you can apply for a termination order straight from the tribunal without issuing a notice to the tenant. That usually happens when the tenant commits a major violation of the lease agreement, such as engaging in illegal and dangerous activities. 

In such an instance, the tribunal will hold a hearing and listen to both sides of the story before issuing a termination order. You can apply directly to NTCAT under the following conditions:  

  • A severe breach should be severe enough to warrant termination such as those that aren’t easy to fix or have caused the landlord to incur massive losses.
  • A tenant damages the premises extensively due to reckless behaviour.
  • A tenant recklessly injures you or people nearby.
  • If a tenant engages in illegal activities such as running a gambling ring, a brothel, or drug production.
  • If the tenants are hoarders, noisemakers, or threaten the peace and privacy of their neighbours.

Escape the Endless Eviction Cycle

It takes time to evict an awful tenant. And even worse to evict one problem tenant only to replace them with an even worse tenant. 

Carrying out an extensive background check before onboarding a tenant can help you break this painful chain. Bad tenants pose a threat to your sanity, property, and financial stability.

Luckily, modern property management technologies like Lodge are on hand to put a stop to that. 

Now you can run a background check at the touch of a button and screen out the bad seeds. 

An excellent screening process profiles a prospect down to their financial capabilities. It digs into their tenancy background to root out any suspicious incidents that can result in a costly eviction process. With this information, you can make informed choices when picking a tenant and escape the hassles of endless evictions.

Lodge also enables you to streamline your entire property management process.

Reserve your spot now for a personalised demo and see for yourself how easy it can actually be.


Photo: yanalya